Each year, you analyze your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs). You use the Ratios to compare your numbers against industry profit leaders—the top 25% in terms of profit as a percent of sales. Then you note discrepancies and come to educated conclusions, like “Our paper costs are out of line with industry averages we need to review our contracts with our vendors” or maybe “Our waste and spoilage figures are higher than average” or “Our sales per factory employee are too low to support our current staffing; we need to increase sales to current customers, develop new market opportunities, or reduce our staffing levels.”

But what does it really take to be more profitable?

Our members wanted to know, so our Center for Economics and Market Research team designed a revealing new survey. It uncovers how profit leaders get successful and what strategies they’re using that you’re not.

The Strategic Management Survey looks deeper at the management processes profit leaders use. It goes beyond asking printers to share their numbers to really discover what makes a profit leader a “profit leader.” If you want to know, just take the survey to find out!

We asked Ed Gleeson, Director, Center for Economics and Market Research, about this new survey and how it will help printers increase their profits.

You just released the new Strategic Management Survey. Can you tell us more about and how it helps printers become more profitable?

When we consult with members about how they can benchmark their financial ratios to the profit leaders, the feedback we often get is that they already know where they have to improve. What they are more interested in is “how” profit leaders earn more per every dollar in sales.

Using the Ratios for financial benchmarking is a great starting point for developing a strategy to become a profit leader and can help you determine some of your strengths and weaknesses. The Strategic Management Survey is designed to help take you to the next level by determining which practices help lead to increased profitability.

For example, according to the 2013 Ratios, on average a profit leader with $3 million in sales spends 32.6% of sales on factory payroll, while the average printer allocates 37.0% of sales to factory payroll. In this example the profit-leading firms save $132,000 a year in factory payroll costs. How do the profit leaders produce the same volume of work at a significantly lower labor rate? This survey is designed to determine how and why profit leaders are more efficient and productive. It also determines what strategic management practices correlate most with profitability.

To put it in perspective, the Ratios provide the “where” do we need to improve, and the Strategic Management Survey provides the “how”—its purpose is to fill the gap of how to develop a business that is more profitable.

What prompted your decision to develop this survey?

We recognized the need for the Strategic Management Survey based on the feedback we received from Ratios users. The main reason was to fill the gap of knowledge of how profit leaders develop a profitable business. Competing in a sector of the industry that is growing can help drive profits, but we also want to explore the relationship between various strategic management factors such as culture, planning, analysis, implementation, and tracking with profitable sales growth.

What are some of the questions this survey will answer for printers?

We strive to answer members’ questions concerning how they can best use strategic management to increase their odds of succeeding, including:

  • What are the differences in strategic culture between profit leaders and the industry average?
  • Do companies that focus on creating a healthy strategic culture achieve more success than those that do not?
  • Do profit leaders have a formalized, in-depth strategic analysis and planning program that includes both internal and external analysis of their environment?
  • Are enough resources dedicated to strategy implementation? Are goals defined, measured, and compared to actual operations?

The differences between how profit leaders and average performers answer these questions will help us determine how average firms can improve their chances of becoming industry profit leaders.

In what ways does participating in this survey benefit respondents?

Just by taking the time to complete the survey you may discover some gaps in your strategic management practices. The survey covers the following topics:

  • Strategic Culture
  • Strategic Analysis and Planning
  • Strategic Plan Implementation
  • Financial Outcomes
  • Market Conditions
  • Company Demographics

You will also receive the final report and our analysis of the results for free. On average the survey takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete. We realize that this is a substantial time commitment for members. For this reason, the survey is programmed so you can save your responses and complete the survey at your convenience.

How does a member participate in the survey and receive the complimentary results?

To participate in the survey, use the following link: http://www.cvent.com/d/04ql6g. You will need a “Survey Password” to log into the survey, which you can get by contacting me at rdavis@printing.org*. All responses are confidential and the results are reported in aggregate. The “Survey Password” provides an extra layer of security to ensure your response remains confidential.

To thank you for contributing your time and information, we will send all survey participants a free copy of the Strategic Management Report when it is published in June 2014. It will also be available for purchase at $250 for members who do not participate in the survey. If you have any questions about completing the survey or receiving the free report, please feel free to contact me.

How to take part in the 2014 Strategic Management Survey
The survey is now open. Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Visit http://www.cvent.com/d/04ql6g.
  2. Contact Ed Gleeson to obtain your confidential “Survey Password.”
  3. You can save your responses and complete the survey at your convenience, but please allow a total of 20–30 minutes to complete the survey.
  4. All participants receive a full copy of the published report in June 2014.

The Strategic Management Report will also be available for purchase at www.printing.org/store in June 2014. (Members: $250; Non-members: $750)

For more information contact Ed Gleeson at rdavis@printing.org.

*If you are opted into Printing Industries of America surveys, you may receive an email invitation to participate in the 2014 Strategic Management Survey. Your “Survey Password” will be included in this email.